Global Connect Initiative High Level Event at World Bank Concludes

The U.S. Department of State and the World Bank Group brought together ministers, multilateral development bank leaders, and representatives from the technology industry and non-governmental organizations in Washington, DC, on April 14 to discuss the Global Connect Initiative, a multi-stakeholder effort launched by the U.S. Department of State in 2015 with the goal of bringing 1.5 billion new internet users online by 2020.

Over 100 participants, including representatives from 26 countries, as well as representatives of NGOs, the telecom and internet industry, the United Nations, other international organizations and multilateral development banks, announced over 65 new and ongoing initiatives planned or underway in support of connectivity, including investments valued at more than US$20 billion, as well as other commitments to support affordable internet access across the globe. In many cases, these initiatives leveraged public investment to support the significantly larger private sector investment that underpins many connectivity infrastructure projects. Additionally, the participants shared valuable experiences and best practices for connecting the unconnected and discussed future action through the Global Connect Initiative.

Connecting an additional 1.5 billion people to the Internet by 2020 is an ambitious goal. While studies have shown that countries with low rates of Internet access experience a one percent increase in GDP for every 10 percent increase in broadband penetration, more than four billion people, nearly 60 percent of people globally, still lack Internet access—in some countries that figure can top 95 percent. Global Connect aims to refocus leaders on connectivity efforts and encourage a mix of policies and projects to bring people online that would not be brought online through market forces alone in ways that incentivize investments such as universal service funds, foreign direct investment, public-private partnerships, improved spectrum policies, and pro-competition policy in infrastructure construction.

For updates, follow #onlineby2020 or @CathyNovelli on Twitter. You can also go to the Global Connect Initiative website at